Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Down for the Count

Scowl-Face. my editor and servant, has gone and done it now.  He has caught the kind of pneumonia that walks around.  This, despite having gotten his annual influenza inoculation AND a pneumonia shot about six years ago (they should be good for 10 years), plus enough daily vitamin consumption to choke a slobberdog.

So he is down for the count.  I'm trying to line-up a replacement, but until then, there may be a brief hiatus in my blogs (paid vacation!  How about it, Boss Lady?)  I'll still be roving around getting the latest scoops with the news you need to know, but, without an editor, there will be some delay in getting my copy to press.  (That's reporter talk.)  So please bear with me during this difficult, inconvenient time.

Looking for Another Tolerably Good Servant and Editor (in That Order),

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Health News Bureau

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Busy Elephants: Almost as Cute as Moi

Library youth services across the nation (which probably includes Indiana) are eagerly awaiting the release of a new children's board book, Busy Elephants, written by John Schindel and photographed by Martin Harvey (Tricycle Press, 2011) (ISBN 9781582463834).  Our book trailer below will clue you into the inside story.

Sources close to the publisher inform me that the book carries a reading level of human ages 4-8, but the book should be a sure hit with tiny toddling children-people as well as preschoolers.  Apparently, some of the little human guys haven't learned to read all the big words yet, so grown-up people have readalouds (not a word--certainly not a single word--but really should be. Scowl-Face, my editor, says to hyphenate.  Read-alouds.  There.  His blood pressure can return to normal now.)  Little children-people will shriek for joy (believe me, they shriek for a lot of reasons) when adult people read this wonderful book aloud, with its beautiful photographs of elephants matched with rhymes and action verbs.  Elephants are mighty cute, especially the babies, so there is indeed much to shriek about.

Elephants are smart, graceful, and gregarious animals (take that, Professor Strunk!) that will charm your socks off, make no mistake.  Everybody will love this book, because elephants are, front and center, really lovable big dudes.

Glad to Call Elephants My Friends, Especially When I Need a Comfy Ride Way Up High,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Big Ears and Tusks News Bureau

P.S.  William Strunk, Jr., Professor of English at Cornell back in the early 20th century, told E.B. White and classmates not to use "a big word when a little word will do" in their writing.  White was one of the great essayists of the 20th century--possibly the greatest, along with his pal, James Thurber, who was partial to slobberdogs and shared an office with White at The New Yorker--so he must have learned something from Professor Strunk.  Well, gregarious may be a two dollar word, but, sometimes, those fifty cent words are just too, well, pedestrian.  I bet elephants prefer big words they can wrap their trunks around.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feline Media Entrance: Your Guarantee of Freedom of the Press

A feline roving reporter needs her own entry and egress to the library.  In the long history of the fourth estate, special entrances for the benefit of members of the press have been the common practice.  Here is an impressive example at the New York Yankees stadium:

Saunter around the exterior of Mooresville Public Library's truly excellent facilities.  You will find many doorways designed for human patrons, which is fine, so far as it goes.  But you will locate--I expect this will shock you--NO SUCH entries for us feline roving reporters!  It offends the sensibilities.  Clearly, this is another situation that cries for swift remedy.

My regular readers will recognize the MPL Children's Garden, my outdoor digs when I'm visiting the library (suitable for hosting my feline friends and human library patrons):

Notice the doorway leading into the MPL Youth Services Department.  Inside it's marked "emergency exit," and if  not having a special press entrance isn't an emergency, I guess I wouldn't know one if it grabbed my tail.  (Don't.  Just don't.)  My idea, Boss Lady, is to insert what is commonly (and, somewhat vulgarly) called a "cat door," as per my illustration below.

The benefits to this structural modification are clear to any right-thinking individual.  Important media types such as myself could freely come and go, delivering copy to editors in the time-honored fashion (we don't do electronic transmission; it's unnatural) while stopping by the MPL Staff Lounge to partake in kitty comestibles.  Human patrons could not use my special door, unless they were quite small indeed, and tiny crawling humans usually have larger parents chasing closely after them.  So only authorized members of the feline press (that's me, pretty much, around here, anyway) would have access.

It is an elegant solution to a thorny problem.  As a personal favor, I'll wave my usual consulting fee of 679 cans of name-brand tuna in oil (none of that cheap generic stuff, mind you!).  Oh, one other suggestion.  You should install a sushi bar just inside the doorway (again, for feline press corp use only).  It's just common courtesy.

Preserving a Free Press Longer Than You've Had Hot Dinners,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Press Club News Bureau

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Whose Photo is First? La Mienne, Naturellement

When you visit my library's home page, you will undoubtedly notice an icon bar (not unlike a salad bar, without the tomatoes, ptooie!) in the upper middle of the web page.  (Okay, there are no lettuce, radishes, or dressings either.)  The icon bar looks like this (click it to see if it makes the picture larger; not my fault if it doesn't):

(Well, no, there are no croutons, either.  All right, it's nothing like a salad bar. But I'm hungry!)  Ever wonder what all those icons are for?  Me, neither. (Ha! Bet you didn't expect me to say that.)  Well, you really ought to be interested, since these icons link you to the greatest things since toasted winged dinners. Apart from the MPL web site, they represent the MPL Online Universe (like the Marvel Universe without the spandex).  Let's review their functions.  There will be a quiz at the end.

Starting from left to right, unless you're reading Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, Urdu, or some other Indo-Iranian languages.  (Siamese kitties, incidentally, also read from right to left. We're all different, and yet we're still all cats. Makes you think, doesn't it?):

  • Facebook icon:  This will take you to the login page for Facebook.  (Eye roll.)  To save time, I'll give you the library's FB account URL. (They won't let me have my own FB account, because it would be too popular and turn Scowl-Face into an even bigger sourpuss than he already is).
  • YouTube icon:  Did you know the library has 139 videos uploaded to YouTube?  If you visit the MPL YouTube Channel, you may watch them, but, sadly and inexcusably, none will feature moi.  Sniff.  So much talent wasting away.
  • SoundCloud icon:  Now this one is way cool.  If you like the soundtrack music the library uses in its videos, then you'll love this web site, which features all 24 tunes on the CD Through Abstract Eyes, by The Music Man, who is the library's volunteer composer. (I think he would accept tips; put bills and large coins here in my hat, if you please.)
  • icon:  Scowl-Face used to print reams of MPL Indiana Room handouts; he was responsible for the devastation of entire old growth Romanian forests.  Now he has them all online, which may be viewed free-of-charge.  (The copyrights probably mean you can't download them, but try it, anyway.)
  • Evergreen Indiana icon:  This links you to the Evergreen Indiana map, which displays all the consortium libraries.  Find an Evergreen Library near you or your travel plans.
  • OverDrive icon:  MPL is a member of the eIndiana Digital Consortium.  Want to download a digital library book to your Nook or Newt or whatever thingy?  This is the place.
  • MY BLOG icon.  Yep.  My blog.  Follow it.
  • Broadway Gal's Blog icon.  Broadway Gal runs MPL Youth Services.  She sings, she dances, she writes and directs, plays guitar, does librarian stuff.  Plus she writes a bunch of blogs.  Her pinky toe has more talent than most people put together!
  • Programma Mama Blog icon:  Looking for a good book to read, grown-ups?  How 'bout a graphic novel?  Programma Mama (say it real fast; it's fun!) will steer you right.  Or left.  Or straight ahead.  Hey, wherever you want to go, pal.  The meter's running.
  • Anime/Manga Gal Blog icon:  Anime/Manga Gal, our Technical Services librarian, can give you the skinny on these.  She knows her stuff, too.  She's quite the writer, so confidential sources tell me.
  • Scowl-Face's Blog icon:  Hot air.  Blowing your way.  'Nuff said.
  • Indiana Room Blog icon:  More hot air, but historical and more interesting.  Still blowing your way.  Better batten down the hatches, sailor.
You simply would never forgive yourself if you didn't click all of these icons on the library's home page and explore the wonders within.  The insights are outta sight!  (I was a '60's hippie feline chick in my fourth of nine lives.) Grazin' in the grass is a gas; baby, can you dig it?  (Apologies to the Friends of Distinction.  That is one cool song.)

One Groovy Cat,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Haight-Ashbury News Beat

Saturday, January 22, 2011

National Answer Your Cat's Questions Day (Really)

Today (January 22) is National Answer Your Cat's Questions Day.  Yes, it truly is, and no, I don't know who decided it.  Now answer some of my questions:
  • Why do my human servants always insist upon parking their blubberousness (not a word, but oughtta be) upon my prized sleeping spot?  Do they not realize that this spot is devoted to my use solely and exclusively?  It couldn't be clearer.  I rubbed my cheeks on the sides of the chair, thereby marking it with my scent.  (Some cats might take stronger measures and "mark their territory" by whizzing on the chair, but that's gauche.)  There are approximately 12 pounds of my loose fur affixed to the upholstery.  The signs are unmistakable.
  • When the food dish is empty, refill it.  Could anything be more self-evident?
  • Why are slobberdogs so spastic?
  • Since felines are the supreme intelligence in the universe (face it, it's true, you know it is), why are there not more kitties pulling down big corporate incomes?  We could really straighten this recession-thing out in the flick of the tail.
  • Do you think spelling V-E-T fools us?  I mean, come on!
  • Would you eat Pâté?  Do you know what that is?  Does that sound delicious to you?

I'd like you kitties reading this to ask your questions in my blog's comments section.   (If you can't work the keys, have your human servant type for you.)  Now is our chance to set forth our inquiries.  Then it's up to you humans to pay attention.  So put down your iPoops or whatever and read what we're saying.

Thanks to CircMaster (she's in the list--you'll have to connect the dots) for her heads-up on this important holiday.

Still With More Questions Than Answers, But Hopeful, Nonetheless,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Q & A News Bureau

P.S.  Henry Beard's French for Cats (see book trailer [below] and previous blog) expressly informs the reader about the sleeping spot.  Read it already and learn something useful.  More useful than that iPoop thingy, I do believe.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book News: Your Guide to Good Reads

Need a good read?  Book News to the rescue!

Or perhaps you would prefer this version of the video.

Didn't like either?  (Hey ... I've got claws, remember!)  Book News emails notices about the latest titles available in a variety of genres.  Just click the icon (below), which is also on our library home page, and you may subscribe to as many categories as you like.  You will then receive emails once a month telling you about some of the best new books that will be so utterly cool to read.

One of the books currently on Book News (as of today, January 21, 2011) is (wait for it!) . . .

(Drum roll, please)

It's kinda small as a screen shot, so I'll give you a hint . . .

A new Dewey book!  Birthdays are fast approaching (moi, Writer Girl, etc.).  You can't go wrong with a Dewey Readmore Books blockbuster.

I like ribbons on my presents, by the way.

For more information about this and other exciting books, take a peek at Book News through the MPL web site.  It's more fun than a bevy of slobberdogs.

Birthday Scam Worked Again,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Book News News Beat
(Say that fast a dozen times)

P.S.  Thanks to MST3K for my tag line for this blog.  Not familiar with?  Click here.  Best show that isn't still on television but should be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oscar: Compassionate Companion, Genuine Caregiver

I'm a black cat.  We have been much maligned in Europe and America over the centuries, being (wrongly) singled out as associating with black magic, witches, and such like (all types of cats, slobberdogs, and other animals could just as easily claim supernatural affiliations).  Black cats were especially prized, nay, worshipped, by the ancient Egyptians, and they built the pyramids, for crying out loud.  Black cats are actually good luck.  Ask any of their companions.

Felines, like slobberdogs, horseys, moo-cows, and lots of other animals, are, frankly, psychic.  Face it--our awareness is broader than most humans. (Okay, humans are animals, too, and there are psychics among them.)  There are too many well authenticated cases to dispute this historical fact.  One such demonstration of what biologist Rupert Sheldrake (remember him?) calls extended mind is featured in our book trailer below.

You can read Scowl-Face's blog (zzzzzzz....) for a traditional book review. Oscar is an amazing cat, plain and simple.  His story is intriguing and unforgettable.  Some people might think he's spooky or a grim reaper, but they don't understand kitties.  Sharing our companionship is a genuine act of caring and, in the case of the terminally ill, of compassion as well.

Proud to be a Black Kitty, You Bet Your Boots,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Psychic Feline News Beat

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dewey Readmore Books (for Young Reading People, Ages 9-12)

Surely you all know Dewey Readmore Books (1988-2006), late feline-in-residence at Spencer (Iowa) Public Library.  Dewey the Library Cat: a True Story, by Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter (1st ed., New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2010), is a children's book recounting his library life and adventures. There are several books about Dewey, from titles targeted toward preschoolers to grown-up people editions.  There is a Dewey book out there just right for someone in your family!

Take a gander (but watch out--geese can bite!  Just ask Scowl-Face) at our book trailer below to learn more about this wonderful book about a cat among cats.

Iron Frog has a website devoted to library cats (and their interesting histories) from around the world.  If you like felines (and who doesn't?), then you will enjoy searching to see if libraries near you have resident kitties.  Around these parts, of course, Tober the Thorntown (Ind.) Library Cat is a celebrity, and deservedly so.

Back to Dewey Readmore Books.  You will enjoy reading this book (or the many others) about Dewey.  He brought much happiness to many people patrons at Spencer (Iowa) Public Library.  We live to serve.  Wait--that's obviously backwards.  When I say we, I naturally meant you.  Also, add us felines to the end of that sentence.  There!  Much better.  Scowl-Face is right.  Editing does improve one's writing.  (See if he practices what he preaches by reading his blog about this Dewey book.)

Now let me digress and reveal a really funny story about Scowl-Face and ganders.  Back in April, 2008, Scowl-Face was sneaking off to have lunch by himself at Smokey Bones, without bringing anything back for moi (although, admittedly, I didn't know him then; but Stumpy did).  There was a goose sitting upon eggs in a nest outside the restaurant, and her gander (mate) was chasing employees and customers around the parking lot to protect his family.  Scowl-Face dashed toward the entrance, but the Gander took flight and commenced a strafing run.  Papa Goose landed on Scowl-Face's shoulders, biting and pulling his hair.  According to press reports, Scowl-Face ran around in circles, "squealing like a little girl," according to several witnesses.  Having made his point, the Gander launched himself from his quarry's shoulders and flew at a waitress holding a broom, who also quickly fled.  Ganders, then, are not to be trifled with.  Let that be a lesson to us predators.  Large flying feasts are best left to lions, tigers, and bears, oh, my!

Giving Geese a Goodly Distance Since 1994,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Wide Berth News Bureau

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stumpy to the Rescue!

There's an outside food bowl specifically devoted to moi.  Sometimes, there are feral cats that stick their big noses into my din-dins.  This happened today, when a nasty little tabby stumbled up and snarfed my supper.  I wasn't there to give her the "what-for," but my pal Stumpy, whose real name is Juliet, entered the breach and engaged the intruder in a knock-down, drag-out, all-for-it brawl.  Scowl-Face interceded to prevent serious injury, and tabby took to the hills.  I hope Stumpy is okay.  She is a truly brave kitty and deserves extra portions for protecting her (and my) turf.

Beware, feral felines and wandering slobberdogs!  Stumpy and Kit Cauliflower are on guard duty and will defend our hard-earned freedoms and privileges.  Generally, we're peace-loving kitties, but, hey, sometimes you have to rough up these bad guys to protect what's yours.

Ready With My Left Hook,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Pugilist News Beat

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Animals Aboard Titanic

Earlier this month, Writer Girl and some friends visited the Titanic Artifact Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum, which closes today (Sunday, January 16, 2011).  Scowl-Face and the Lady With the Red Hair went yesterday and provided a full report.

I was curious about the animals (besides the people) traveling on the Titanic. Did any survive?  What types of non-human animals (besides rats) were aboard?  There are lots of online discussion groups weighing-in on the subject, but their participants rarely cite any sources.  BBC published a 2002 online article that mentioned the animals aboard ship.  A blog written by writer Courtney Mroch discusses the animals aboard Titanic, but she gives no references, although she refers readers to other online articles about Titanic and pets.  (Clicking on hyperlinks in the article brings up advertisements or advertisers' web pages.)  The RMS Titanic Online Store has a brief article--also without source citations--about animals on the ship. offers its two (unverified) cents.

Most interesting to me were the canary and chickens (yum!) (just kidding!). Seriously, I would like to know much more about Jenny, the ship's official cat, and her kittens.  Jenny is mentioned in the BBC online article, which cites The Animals on Board the Titanic, by Loannis Georgiou (Atlantic Daily Bulletin), as its source.  (The name is misspelled; it is actually Ioannis Georgiou of Germany, who contributed to the discussion threads about Titanic animals on the Encyclopedia Titanica message boards.)  As just noted, Encyclopedia Titanica devotes discussion threads to the topic, but most comments include few sources and has, as these things tend, its assortment of unsubstantiated commentary.  A HubPages blog relates Jenny among other famous ships' cats, with suggested readings and some bibliographical references.  Jenny receives short shrift in survivor Violet Jessop's Titanic memoirs.

I would like to see a historical account (published as a short book) devoted to the animals who sailed aboard Titanic.  The book itself could include ships' pets in naval and maritime history, with a chapter devoted to Titanic.  This would certainly be of great interest to cats like me and slobberdogs, as well as our human companions whom we guide and protect.  You hear me, naval and maritime authors out there?

I would have liked to have seen the exhibit, but the state museum prevents kitties from visiting (another example of feline discrimination).  Seeing Eye Slobberdogs (an honorable breed, make no mistake) are permitted entry, but I'm down with that.  If you're a human and would like to see the exhibition, you've probably missed your chance at the Indiana State Museum, but it will appear elsewhere, and you may wish to make a special trip to see it.  You should.  It was marvelous, according to my sources.

R.I.P., Jenny and kittens, as well as all the slobberdogs, chickens, pig, canary, rats, et al., who went down with the Titanic.  And the people, too, of course.  It was a tragedy that could easily have been avoided had better precautions been observed (like sufficient lifeboats, heeding earlier wireless warnings about icebergs, traveling at a normal, slower speed, and taking the time to find the binoculars for the crows' nest crew at the beginning of the voyage).

Betting Jenny Was Fed Better Than I,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Ships' Animals News Beat

Friday, January 14, 2011

That's MISTER Sasquatch to You!

Everybody has heard legends and folklore about Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Abominable Snowmen, or other names assigned to large, humanoid/ape-like creatures that supposedly live in remote wildernesses.  Movies have been made spoofing the subject (e.g., Harry and the Hendersons [1987], starring John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, and Kevin Peter Hall, and directed by William Dear, who, believe it or not, got his directorial start with Michael Nesmith's pioneering music videos).  Did you know that Nesmith (of The Monkees TV and music fame) invented MTV?  His mother invented Liquid Paper. Amazingly talented people.  But I digress.

These legends (I'm back to Bigfoot) appear in folklore worldwide.  Could there be a historical root to these stories?  Are contemporary sightings factual or fanciful?  In short, could it be possible that these figures are actually survivors of other branches of the human family tree long thought extinct?  Could Yeti be Neanderthals?  Could they be some other near-relation to apes and humans?

Anthropologist Myra Shackley considers the evidence in her lively analysis, Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1983).  Our book trailer below sheds some light on the subject.

I'm no sabertooth, but even I know that there are some species previously thought extinct that have been rediscovered in modern times (the most famous example is the Coelacanth).  Scoffers scoff (what else would they do?) that it would be impossible for Hominid ancestors to remain undiscovered in today's world, but one must remember that there are still sparsely populated regions on the planet where such beings could survive (or even thrive) in isolated splendor.  Shackley presents the evidence in an objective fashion, so we should do her the courtesy of keeping an open mind while weighing her arguments and reasoning.

You may well ask why I, a feline (and obviously superior life form), should care whether there are still multiple species of people stomping about on the planet.  The plain truth is that cats like me (so-called "domesticated") need humans as servants.  Good help is so hard to find these days.  If there were more human (or human-like) folks around, then my dinner dish could be refilled much more frequently than is the current practice (op. cit., my previous comment about good help), and there would be more hands available for back scratches and cheek rubs, and there would be more ankles against which we felines could rub.  Such a world would be an improvement, provided that people remembered that we cats are the bosses!  (If people need somebody subservient, they know where to find slobberdogs.)

Homo Sapiens Sapiens (that's you, assuming you're a modern human) were once only one type of Hominid on a planet swarming with various different humanoid species (but not all living contemporaneously).  Survival of branches thought extinct is a tantalizing possibility, if for no other reason than the dinner dish-refilling perspective.  It is a mystery worthy of closer inspection.

Hey, I just realized that The Monkees would be a Hominid pop band, so that reference ties-in nicely with this general discussion.  Now, I'm not suggesting that Michael Nesmith is a Neanderthal; he seemed like such a nice fellow on the television program (1966-1968 on NBC, then Saturday mornings of CBS for several more years of reruns).  I know this because Scowl-Face has the entire series on videotape, which is a virtually extinct technology.  Or perhaps not?  Have there been "VHS sightings" equivalent to Bigfoot?  Do VCRs continue to survive in remote pool halls or other dank human hangouts?

If you can find a copy of Shackley's book, be sure to read it.  Still Living? will give you pause for thought and make you scratch your head a bit.  But why not scratch behind my ears instead?

Pretty Sure Neanderthals Worshipped Cats (Like Who Doesn't?),

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Large Dude News Beat

P.S.  Doesn't Sasquatch sound like an oversized Cabbage Patch doll?  If you missed the 1980s (remember, I've got nine lives), then Google it.

Big Mean Wild Slobberdogs Terrorize a Pacific Island

If you've read Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell, which was first published in 1960 and won the Newbery Medal in 1961, then you'll already know what this blog is about.  It is a fictional account of a real life Native American girl who lived during the first half of the 19th century on San Nicolas Island, the outermost of eight Channel Islands (off the California coast).  Here's our book trailer for you.

This girl spent many years living alone on the island.  In the novel, she is surrounded by some huge, vicious, wild slobberdogs.  They do something really bad to her brother, but I won't go into details, although you can figure it out once you recall that she lived alone on the island for a long time.  She vows revenge, but she discovers that even wild, nasty slobberdogs are more bark than bite once you get to know them (try telling her brother that).  She has to face other terrors, such as invading Aleutian sea otter killers, who were responsible for driving her tribe from the island (when she was accidentally left behind).

This book is an exciting read, even if there are way too many slobberdogs and not any kitties, not even tigers or lions.  The author really grabs your attention from the outset, and he keeps a fairly tight grip until you've reached the story's conclusion.  The Lady With the Red Hair really liked this book when she was much younger.  She read it when she attended Newby Elementary School, which was back when they were using stone tablets, I think.

Well, her recommendation carries considerable weight, so take this book for a spin.  It won the Newbery Medal.  They don't hand those things out to just anybody.  You have to be a darned good writer, which Scott O'Dell demonstrated quite well with this work.  My only recommendation would have been this:  more dolphins, fewer slobberdogs.  Plus a couple dozen cats.

Not So Thrilled About Deserted Islands Anymore, Unless I Get Some Room Service,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Pacific Seafood News Beat

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cosmic Support of Your Libraries

Scowl-Face can't leave things alone.  He's always trying variations.  A few months ago, he did two program trailers encouraging viewers to support their libraries.  Now he has done a third (below).


Do you like this one better than the other two?

None of them showcase my considerable feline talents, so I'm fairly bummed about that.  But you should support your libraries, that's for sure.  Without them, we would all be miserable slobberdogs.

Sure, I've Got a Library Card--How About You?

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Library Promotional News Beat

Slobberdogs Hog the Limelight (Again)

 Yesterday we talked about biologist Rupert Sheldrake's intriguing book, The Sense of Being Stared At and Other Aspects of the Extended Mind.  Another Sheldrake gem is Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals.  Here's our book trailer about it.

This book is also discussed in another MPL blog.  Giving my particular spin, I have to observe, first and foremost, that slobberdogs are getting an unfair share of the limelight (yet again).  The title, Dogs That Know ..., implies that slobberdogs have some special (psychic?) powers that the rest of us lack.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Felines are renowned for their sixth sense (or, generally, just good sense overall), and Sheldrake provides some examples in his research involving cats that knew, like dogs, parrots, and other pets, that their owners were heading home at unusual times or under unpredictable circumstances.  I'm willing to give slobberdogs their due on this--they can be pretty psychically tuned-in, even if they seem to be doofuses the rest of the time--but let's not forget that cats are practically omniscient.

Sheldrake's books are really fascinating.  He explains the science clearly in terms even slobberdogs could understand.  His theories explain much animal (and human) behavior that is otherwise mysterious.  Anyone interested in understanding animal (and people) behavior should definitely check them out at your local library.  Our library has copies available; if your library is an Evergreen Indiana consortium member, then you can use your Evergreen Indiana library card to check out Sheldrake's books from any E.I. library.  (You can search the E.I. Catalog here.)  To learn more about Evergreen Indiana, you can (wait for it!) . . . watch our program trailer below.

Evergreen is also mentioned in our Librarians Do Taio Cruz parody video.

Hey, I'd better go.  I've got a feeling that the Lady With the Red Hair is on her way home now.  In my mind's eye, I can tell she just left her office at Greenwood Public Library.  She's bringing home a snack from her lunch at Smokey Bones.  (Love that barbecue sauce!)  My mind's nose can smell it--tasty!  Hope our resident slobberdogs don't hogger-in on my snack (a little pork joke there).

Expecting Texas Toast, too,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Psychic News Beat

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Looking At Me?

Cats can stare the pants off of any person.  (Not that we want you taking off your pants; that's just an expression.)  You can tell from my photo that I'm no slouch in the staring department, but the champion glare queen (you might call her a "stare master") was definitely Feisty, whom we know as the legendary Daughter.  If you've watched our cat-related book trailers, you've seen her photo, but I'll post it below for sake of convenience.  This wasn't really a glare, but Daughter used to stare into space at things only she could see.

Tober, the Library Cat at Thorntown (Indiana) Public Library, talks about giving the "Stink-eye," which is what felines do when we see somebody who is, but shouldn't be, intruding upon our turf, or the supper dish is empty, or you are sitting in our favorite sleeping spot, or we are generally irritated. We have a few good examples of this from our personal kitty photo collection.  [From top to bottom:  Callie Jo, Fluffy, Gracie (whom we call Baby), and Junior (of Baskets From Junior's Farm fame)].

Now, all this staring serves a useful purpose.  It is a means of communication, both when the intended target sees the stare (hence Tober's "Stink-eye" to ward off intruders) and when the intended target does not see it.  How could anyone be aware of someone staring at him/her if s/he didn't see the stare?  That, my friends, is the 50-lb. name brand cat food bag question, and to scientifically answer it, we turn to the works of renowned biologist Rupert Sheldrake.  Watch our book trailer, if you don't mind being stared at.

This is a fascinating read.  Sheldrake has conducted a gazillion experiments testing his extended awareness theories (something to do with morphogenetic fields), and he explained one in another of his books, Seven Experiments That Could Change the World (Riverhead Trade pbk. ed., 1996).

The Music Man did this experiment for his sixth grade science fair project.  You blindfold people and have someone sit behind them.  An experimenter flips a coin to decide if the behind person will stare or not stare at the blindfolded folks.  Using hand signals, the experimenter informs the starer of the results of each coin flip, and then the starer either stares or not.  After a certain period of time, each blindfolded person reports to a recordkeeper whether or not s/he feels as if s/he is being stared at.  This is repeated for about 30 trials or more.  The results are then tabulated.  Sheldrake discovered that a statistically significant number of persons could accurately detect while blindfolded whether or not s/he was being stared at.  Pretty spooky, no?

Try the experiment for yourselves.  See what happens.  (If your head explodes, then forget I said anything.)  Science can be a lot of fun when you study interesting things.

Scowl-Face wrote a short blog about our book trailer above, but, frankly, he didn't say much, which is really unusual.  Read it and weep.  (Okay, that was mean.  Take a look if you'd like.)

I'd stare at you right now, but it's nap time.  Drop by later.  Something will have irritated me by then.

Giving People Tober's "Stink-eye" When It's Deserved,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Stare Master News Beat

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Year Anniversary for MPL YouTube Channel

On the MPL Readers' Advisory blog, you can read about the first anniversary of the MPL YouTube Channel.  I won't repeat the details, since you can click the hyperlinks to read further.  However, I would like to note that, out of 138 uploaded videos, not one features yours truly!  How is such a grievous error possible?   Mere oversight on Scowl-Face's part is hardly a sufficient answer.  There must be a more sinister reason afoot.  I think I can guess.  I am so massively cute, even with my cauliflower ear (hence my boxing name, Kit Cauliflower), that folks making our videos were just plain overwhelmed.  You've seen my photo; what's not to adore?

Of course, being an outdoorsy type kitty, it would be difficult to capture my roving reporter-ness on camera.  But I think my fans, which, by the way, Boss Lady, are legion, would really enjoy seeing a video featuring their favorite star reporter.  How about it?  Voice your opinion to  Let Boss Lady know if you'd like to see me on the big silver screen (or your laptop screen or computer monitor or phone, for Pete's sake).  It may not be practicable--they would have to catch up with me to capture my digital image, and I move pretty fast--but your votes will ensure that Boss Lady gets some nice emails.

Meanwhile, take a gander at our blog celebrating one year on YouTube.  We're not too proud to strut around the MPL courtyard, which looks like this in nicer weather.

Great photo, Boss Lady!

Why No Cake, If We're Celebrating?  Just Asking,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Moving Pictures News Beat

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pioneer Cat

I like exciting adventures about cats.  I know some people who are doctors and lawyers who hate to watch television shows about doctors and lawyers, because these programs often stretch the reality of these professions all out of shape, or so these folks say.  But I could watch TV (or read books) about cats until the cows come home. Well, it takes one to know one (cats, not cows.  Well, I suppose it also takes a cow to know a cow, but that's more than I really wanted to know about cows anyway.  How now, brown cow.  Hah!  I've always wanted to say that in print, and you don't often get too many chances, to be sure.)

One book (written for young readers) that features a cat hero is Pioneer Cat, written by William H. Hooks and illustrated by Charles Robinson (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1988) (ISBN 9780394820385). This is one of the Stepping Stone book series that help younger readers dip their imaginations into chapter books.  It is 64 pages long, which sounds like a lot to humans between 8-10 years old, but the story really carries you along so quickly that the pages fly by.  School Library Journal recommends it to little humans between ages 9-12, but Publishers Weekly suggests ages 8-10.  I can never tell about those age things.  People years are so much different than feline years that all humans seem old to me.

Want to know the plot?  Check out our book trailer below.

I can really relate to this character, Snuggs, the kitty that nine-year-old Kate Purdy joins in her long trip on the Oregon Trail.  It's the middle of the 19th century, so they have to use wagons, horses, oxen, mules, and other neigh-sayers.  (Okay, wagons don't neigh, but they do make noise bouncing along those rutted dirt trails.)  Snuggs is a true pioneer kitty--a feline after my own heart--and she has kittens to boot.  Traveling over the American continent way back then was no picnic, and there are adventures aplenty for Snuggs, Kate, her friend Rosie, and their families and friends.  Snuggs, of course, saves the day repeatedly during many adventures, such as a buffalo stampede, encounters with Native Americans, difficult river crossings, trying to scale mountain passes, etc., etc.   Predictably, the humans writing and illustrating the book make it sound like people are the heroes, but any cat can tell you that kitties come to the rescue every time.

Will Snuggs, Kate, and her relatives and friends reach the beautiful Oregon territory?  Will they settle somewhere along the trail instead?  Will they all survive (after all, there were dread diseases and accidents to contend with) to begin new lives in the American Northwest?  Those answers await you in the book.  You'll have fun on this journey, because you don't actually have to suffer what the real pioneers endured to appreciate the experience.  That is the number one feline rule of paw:  Why suffer?  Ever?

I admire pioneer cats like Snuggs and the Purdy family (and the other settlers) who faced the daunting challenge of crossing the wild, untamed West to reach the land of their dreams.  Reading about their travels made me more interested to learn the actual history of the Oregon Trail.  How many cats really were wagon train captains?  Is it true that slobberdogs had to stay in the wagons at the rear?  I bet that's a folklore legend.

Onward, Pioneers!

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Western Migration News Beat

MPL Children's Garden -- Nice Place to Visit (I Call It Home When I'm Around)

The children's garden at MPL is a nice place to hang around, except in winter when it is so very cold.  But I'm used to the great outdoors and can tolerate weather that makes a slobberdog whimper for his mommy.  Here is how it looked in December, 2007 (below).  This is my digs when I'm chillin' (pun intended) outside the library.

I don't like being shut in tiny rooms, as The Lady With the Red Hair and Scowl-Face discovered when they kept me trapped in The Music Man's bedroom for a couple of weeks in December.  I appreciate that they were giving me a warm place to crash and three squares a day--not shabby by any stretch of the imagination--but I must be a freedom feline.  "Live Free or Die!" the New Hampshire state motto says.  Some of those upper New England colonists were kitties, so you can take that to the bank.  Seems like it gets rather cold up there, too.  Freedom isn't always cozy, but it suits me to my whiskers.

So I'm back roughing it in the saddle, so to speak, and roving (as an ace reporter should) to dig up those interesting stories for you, my loyal readers.  Let me tell you a little something about the children's garden.  This is an outdoor area at the east end of the Youth Services department at the library.  It is used for special programs, like reading aloud to young human patrons, which Wild Thang, the library's early literacy specialist, does quite well.  Boys' Adventure Club might also meet there sometimes in warmer weather.  The children's garden looks much friendlier in summertime, as it did in this July, 2008 photo (below) when the area was dedicated.

When I was looking for these pictures, I found another from December, 2007, that rubbed my fur the wrong way:

My old nemesis, the first faux fireplace.  So it has been at the library for a long time.  How many friendly felines and slobberdogs have stopped to rest their chilled, aching bones before this fraud?  It makes me shudder to think of the travesty of it all.

Come late spring and early summer, I'm looking forward to spending more time in the children's garden when there will be lots of fun library happenings.  You should stop by, too.  Ask for refreshments.  I know they have soda pop in the staff break room.

Visiting My Dream Garden,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Secret Garden News Beat

P.S.  Scowl-Face, that's called a segue.  'Tweenies (ages 9-12, I think), young adults (teenagers), and grown-up sorts will enjoy reading The Secret Garden, a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  (The copy The Lady With the Red Hair has was illustrated by Tasha Tudor.)  We have a book trailer that tells a little about this great read:

Everybody has a secret garden somewhere inside.  The prettiest are those that you can see and share with others.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Free MPL Bookmarks!

Check out some of our new bookmarks.  Click on each image to enlarge it, if you would like to print the bookmarks. To visit the blogs, just click the text hyperlinks above each image.

MPL Indiana Room Treasure Trove Blog

Loads of historical info about Mooresville, Morgan County, Indiana, courtesy of our Indiana Room Librarian.

Cat's Eye View (@ MPL)

Saving the best for last!

Thanks for following our blogs!

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Place-Saving News Beat

Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Golden Cats

Cats have been running the show since ancient Egyptian times.  For proof, you need look no further than Hieroglyphs:  Solve the Mystery from Ancient Egypt, by Sean Callery (Kingfisher, 2010) (ISBN 9780753464113).  The book is one of the CodeQuest series of nonfiction historical mysteries in which the reader becomes the central character in these challenging interactive stories.  Readers learn to interpret historical codes, symbols, and pictograms and hone code-breaking skills to follow clues and find answers.

In Hieroglyphs, author Sean Callery presents the reader with a museum displaying one golden Egyptian cat statue.  Its mate has gone missing.  It's up to the reader to find it.  Starting with a display case, the reader searches for clues and must learn to interpret ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to solve the mystery.  The key to Egyptian history, the hieroglyphic record, comes alive in this interesting test of the reader's deductive prowess.  There is an accompanying CD disc.

The book is recommended for readers ages 9-12.  Our book trailer below tells the tale (or tail, since we're talking about cats):

Yep, I'm descended from Pharaohic felines.  Guess I'm a deity.  You may serve me my tuna in oil now.  In a crystal dish, with garnish, thank you very much.

Deserving Royal Treatment,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Bastet Temple News Beat

P.S.  Bastet was an Egyptian sun goddess who was the Pharaoh's guardian and was symbolized by cat figures.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Giant Cat, Tiny Man: a Sci-Fi Role Reversal, a Cautionary Tail --er-- Tale

Scowl-Face wrote a book review about The Incredible Shrinking Man, by Richard Matheson.  It covers the ground decently, but, like so many of his blogs, it drones on a tad.  I like to go straight to the heart of the matter, so let's get right to it.

The main guy gets sprayed with some radioactive mist.  It poisons whatever gland controls his growth (tie-rod gland?  No, tie-rods control the steering in cars and trucks and keep the front tires from flying off.)  Well, some kinda gland.  Anyway, this guy starts shrinking.  He gets really, really small.  There are lots of sci-fi descriptions.  We get inside his head, like we do with all of Richard Matheson's characters, and we get to experience genuine fear of the unknown and seeing the world turned topsy-turvy.

Here's the best part, which may have just been in the movie adaptation rather than the book (I can't remember off the top of my head):  the little fella is "hunted" by his "pet" cat!  Isn't that, to use the tired cliche, just the kitten's whiskers?  Now, it is clear to anyone of us privileged to be a feline that the kitty had no intention of hurting the human; rather, it was simply a run-and-chase game.  In the movie adaptation of the book, they made out the cat to be some terrible bad dude (BOO!  HISS!), but that's Hollywood for you.  We cats don't hurt humans, even tiny ones; they're too useful as servants.  Until we master the can opener principle, we need those opposable thumb folks to open tins of cat food, tuna, shrimp, and such like.

Here's our book trailer featuring The Incredible Shrinking Man, complete with biased cat portrayal (BOO!  HISS!, again):

Here is a movie "still" along with some promotional movie posters.  See what I mean about the misrepresentation of cats?  It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Whoever wrote the screenplay probably believed that slobberdogs are humans' best friends.  Well, if being a best friend requires totally embarrassing and demeaning yourself by slobbering and groveling at the feet of people, then they can take it and run with it.  Felines don't suffer fools gladly.  I spend enough time with embarrassing, demeaning types, and that's just talking about Scowl-Face.

Anyway, read the book already.  Richard Matheson is THE awesome-est (not a word, but should be) sci-fi and horror writer.  He seriously influenced some big guns, like Stephen King.  Read the book, then watch the movie, and see if the cat chase scene appears in both.  (Scowl-Face used to have a copy of the book, but Frisky, his 10,000-year-old-senior-kitty, whizzed on it.  There's a lesson for you.  This rarely happens in public libraries.)

Living Down Hollywood's Shameful Misconduct,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Shrinking Violets News Beat